With their first pick in the 2017 MLB Draft, the San Diego Padres have selected MacKenzie Gore from Whiteville, North Carolina. The southpaw prep pitcher garnered consideration for the number one overall selection, but since the Twins ultimately elected to take Royce Lewis, which was followed by the Reds nabbing teen phenom Hunter Greene, A.J. Preller was fortunate enough to grab the player some baseball pundits consider to be the most talented pitching prospect in the draft, drawing comparison to a young Cole Hamels.
As a senior at Whiteville High School, Gore threw two perfect games in March, including a 15 strikeout, five inning game. Almost impressive as that was that Gore didn’t walk a single batter until mid-April on his way to this unbelievable line: 11-0, 0.19 ERA, 2 SV, 74.1 IP, 25 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 158 K.
When we were previewing first round choices last week, we shared some information on Gore’s arsenal that I thought I would include once again:
Gore already has an established and diverse repertoire. His fastball already generally sits from 90-94 mph but can hit as high as 96-97 mph, which could even see another uptick since he’s just 18 years of age. Both his curveball and his control garnered honorable mention from Jim Callis in the best tool rankings from earlier this week, giving him two grade 60 pitches. Additionally, Gore’s changeup and slider both project to be plus, albeit not quite on the level of his curveball.
I’ve heard but one concern mentioned, and that is that Gore has some unique mechanics where he brings his front knee almost shoulder high as he prepares to deliver; as he gets older, he may have to adjust that if his flexibility declines in a way that makes consistent replication difficult. Here it is for you to see for yourselves:
The Padres have been tied to Gore in just about every mock draft leading up to today, so it likely doesn’t come as a great surprise that the Padres pulled the trigger; however, it might surprise you to know that Gore could move more quickly through the minors than the average prep pitcher because of that diverse arsenal, so you likely won’t have to wait too long to see him on the big league club with his estimated time of arrival not too far behind some of the major pitching prospects in the organization. Now, since any prep pitcher is inherently risky to some degree, I’d expect Preller to play it safe in the second or third round of the draft.